We all have cabin fever, isolation blues, and the need to go do something. Even in the realm of statewide Stay At Home orders, there is a provision for getting out for exercise. A friend recommended a National Preserve in Kansas and off I went.
The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve was a delightful experience and just the dose of nature I needed to dull my anxiety and improve my outlook. Remember, I live in a 25 foot long space. It gets cramped quickly. The park I’m in is not one with trails or even a lot of outdoor space. It’s small and tucked into a suburban space on a busy roadway. The local parks are closed – complete with hazard tape, so I had to get out into the country to get my walk.
The Tallgrass Prairie is over 10,000 acres and is all that is left of the vast land that once dominated the landscape of Kansas and Nebraska, as well as parts of other states. It was home to a buffalo population as well as portions of the vast network of native American tribes (Wichita and Osage, among others here). Once settlers came, they moved out the indigenous people, plowed under the grass for ranches and farms, killed the buffalo, and introduced cattle. This preserve is located in the Flint Hills of Kansas, so named for the rock formation that underlies it. It’s rolling hills are covered in Tallgrass on the Preserve and farms and wide open spaces in the rest of the Hills. The grass won’t reach its full height until end of summer, so use your imagination here.
The Preserve also includes a healthy sized herd of buffalo. The walking path takes you through the pasture where they roam and you may have an up close and personal encounter if you aren’t careful. I did see buffalo from a far distance, but evidence of their earlier positioning near the trail was evident.
The views, once I got on top of the hill, were awesome. Miles and miles of open prairie, preserved as nature created it. Breathing the fresh air with sun on my face was a true tonic, even though I’m feeling the burn today from walking harder and farther than I have in some time!
I had to drive nearly two hours to get there, but it was worth it. The only caution is that it was fairly crowded and many people were not observing social distance on the six foot wide path and often did not give way to single file walking, forcing me off to the side. I had my mask with me. Finally, when I arrived back at the visitor center, I was greeting by about two dozen bikers (motorcycles) who were sitting on the patio area that I had to walk by with my mask on. Maybe they were practicing for Sturgis in August? (the annual South Dakota rally that brings in 100,000s of bikers).
Regardless of the reminder of the virus, it was a splendid day outdoors, complete with a mini picnic lunch in my truck. Thank you NPS for keeping trails open, even though all the buildings and the ranch sites were closed. I needed to be in your space 🙂